January 01, 2008

Best Of, Slough Of Melancholy Division

In the early '70's Jackson Browne's Saturate Before Using traded in an exquistely fashioned melancholia of the kind explored around the same time so successfully by Steely Dan on its first album, melancholia of the kind so utterly attractive to people of a certain age just past their earliest thirst for the simply glorious rhythms of rock n' roll, who find in this sort of music rock n' roll's acute and beautiful expression of their own discomfitted sadness, which sadness, not to go all Young Werther about it, is common enough affliction at that age.

There is nothing that pleases a musician's desire to be heard more than an audience wanting music, and there is no want of an audience for a good sad song, its air identical to the freshly felt melancholia that tugs at the common many of them.

These days we have Nick Cave and Radiohead (from what I hear) and Wilco and for all I Know Arcade Fire and all the others from the unexhausted list of musicians attending to this recognizably inexhaustible willingness of people to hear out the good sad song. At Acephalous, SEK links to an album by The National called "Boxer," which is heavily invested in fashioning music out of just this subset of sadness.

I'm not convinced it's the best album of 2007, as SEK claims, although I don't pay enough attention to pop music these days in all its variety to say if this is or isn't the best thing coughed up in the past year. There may not be all that much to chose from. Romantic melancholy itself may have had no better expression, but I'd have to listen a to a lot more of 2007's crop of it than I'm likely to get around to to make up my mind about that. I'm still working on what the best album of 1965 was, myself.

Anyway, if prefer your sad song neat, your man the Irishman is your musician for that. Here's a distraught one linked to recently by Thers at Atrios's Eschaton:

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